Let’s lead off this week of “Closing Remarks” with some excellent reader questions from the Twitterverse. I am excited that people have these questions and will start each week by answering them to the best of my limited ability.

Which closers are most likely to be traded at the deadline? Matt @SonofMarlinsMan

Hey @SonofMarlinsMan, the most obvious candidate is Richard Rodriguez from Pittsburgh. That said, I would be surprised if a contending team acquired him to use in the closer role; he’s likely better-suited to a setup role. But there are a host of other guys who could move depending on their team’s fortunes in the coming month: Greg Holland, Ian Kennedy, Hansel Robles, maybe Daniel Bard if he rights the ship. If Washington doesn’t get moving, Brad Hand could be on his way out the door too.

How do you rank the guys in KC?  Holland is getting the saves, but Zimmer and Barlow have better stuff? @mattmaison

What a nightmare this bullpen has become. We hear that Josh Staumont threw at the end of the week, testing his sore knee, and could be activated as early as today. Should that happen, it seems clear that Staumont would be the closer. But to your point, the issue for me with the current incarnation of the KC bullpen is that Greg Holland does not profile well as a seventh or eighth inning guy based on his stuff. Keep in mind also that many managers love closers with experience in the job regardless of the skill level of other arms in the bullpen. Your point is correct:  both Zimmer and Barlow have better arms than Holland, but both can be used in multiple roles too, which adds to the murkiness of this bullpen. Forced to choose, I would go Staumont/Holland/Barlow/Zimmer. I would not be surprised if that changes; I would also not be surprised to see Zimmer being used as a popular multiple inning weapon as the season wears on.

I’m in a H + S league.  Any minor league arms that you expect to make an impact soon in those categories? @dapscout

Always a good question.  Who could make an impact in the next wave of closers and setup guys? I will admit I am not your best resource on prospects, and will tag @pmamminofantasy and @MPRichards1981 to ask for their help. Guys please chime in here. I have mentioned Andres Munoz in Seattle as a guy I love, and also DeMarcus Evans in Texas. I know he’s not a minor league arm, but Brusdar Graterol will get an advanced role with health in Los Angeles. Matt Cronin is a name I have earmarked in Washington.

Struggling with finding solid, consistent hold guys. @inthedugout

Hey @inthedugout, I feel your pain. It’s hard to project holds in many pens after you get past the usual subjects. As always, I feel this depends on league context and depth of the league. How deep are we talking here? I am guessing the leaders in the category, guys like Andrew Chafin, Adam Ottavino, Blake Treinen and Victor Gonzalez are stashed on rosters. Some could be flying under the radar in your leagues though:  Genesis Cabrera quietly has 10 holds, Devin Williams has eight, Codi Heuer has eight as well. Other targets: Sam Howard, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Jeffrey Springs and Pete Fairbanks in Tampa. The thing for me is, I try to look at winning teams to maximize my opportunity to cull holds. Good luck and DM me if you have more specific questions.

As the world turns to another week, we are back here at “Closing Remarks” taking a look at each bullpen situation. Things seem to be stabilizing in some of the pens we have been watching for weeks. One thing is for sure: things will always be changing, sometimes subtly, and we will monitor each situation to give you the most current information we can give you as you set rosters for the coming week. Happy summer!

The following is a list of relief pitchers who earned their first saves this week: Aaron Bummer, Cole Sulser, Chris Stratton, Michael Feliz, Connor Brogdon and Jose Cisnero. That brings the total number of pitchers who have saved games to 108 on June 6th.

Here is our weekly Closer Workbook: Closer Workbook 6.6.2021

Here is our rubric for grading the bullpens:

  • Mastery: the best. Nothing else to be learned here. Move forward with confidence.
  • Distinguished: just a notch below mastery, excellent work, but still some room for improvement.
  • Proficient: is average. Think of this as a solid “C” on your term paper.
  • Marginal: poorly constructed, issues with organization, and unclear what is happening.
  • Unacceptable: failure due to lack of planning or execution.

Mastery

Boston Red Sox: Matt Barnes continues to be terrific. We were not sure he would have the job by now, yet he has 14 saves and a whopping 50.6 K%. Run with it. He has shaved his walk percentage down under 6%, and it looks good on him.

New York Yankees: Aroldis Chapman is the guy here and will be until he loses his fastball and slier, neither of which appear to be happening. Four wins, 12 saves, and an eye-popping 51.9 K%, with 42 Ks in 22 innings. Staggering. Use without reservations.

Tampa Bay Rays: Is it J.P. Feyereisen? Is it Diego Castillo? Is it someone else that no one wanted coming in from the streets? It doesn’t matter who closes in Tampa Bay; they get the job done. What a fun and remarkable team they are at 37-23 and in first place in the AL East.  Castillo got his ninth save Saturday night. Who knows? Both will likely continue to get chances and don’t count Pete Fairbanks out of the mix either. While a boon for the Rays, it’s a headache for us. I think Castillo is by far the best arm in their pen, but we all know how this plays out…

Chicago White Sox: We knew Liam Hendriks would round into shape, and he was named AL Reliever of the Month for May. He has 14 saves and two wins for the Sox, and 38 Ks in 23.1 innings. A key for him is avoiding walks, and his BB% is 3.3 right now, putting him in the top 2% of the league. It’s safe to say that those who invested heavily have gotten a workhorse. That being said, Aaron Bummer did earn a save this week on a night when Hendriks was unavailable due to heavy usage, which is a situation to monitor on the South Side.

Cleveland Indians: This is one of the most heavily monitored bullpens in baseball. It’s been interesting to say the least. James Karinchak earned his seventh save in an uneven outing against the White Sox last week, and has been shaky over the last two weeks. Walks have quietly become a bugaboo for him, with 11 in his last 14.1 innings. That is something to watch and may limit his ninth inning usage.  The K numbers are video game worthy; 44 in 25 innings. Emmanuel Clase has nine saves and has been steadier, but did not get a save opportunity this week. No matter, this is a bullpen with two stalwart options, especially in deep leagues.

Houston Astros: Ryan Pressly quietly has become one of the most consistent closers in the game. It’s quiet because his save numbers are lower; he only has eight so far this year but I expect that number to climb. The BB% is a paltry 4.3 and the peripherals are very good as well. If a manager has soured on him because of the lower save totals, pounce on him.

Texas Rangers: I admit to having taken a flyer on Kennedy in some deep leagues, but my expectations were far lower; I hoped for 5-6 saves and ratios that wouldn’t sink me. Was I wrong. Kennedy thus far: 12 saves, a 2.53 ERA, 29.8 K%. That will play well in most fantasy league bullpens. Tip of the cap to Kennedy.

Milwaukee Brewers: Most of the superlatives we could use for Josh Hader have already been circulated here. He’s just ridiculous with 14 saves while adding in three wins, ERA and WHIPS of .76, and 41 Ks in 23. 2 innings. He continues to be one of the best weapons in baseball.

Chicago Cubs: Craig Kimbrel continues to roll on the North Side. He has 13 saves and 39 punch-outs in 23 innings, and he’s controlling his ERA and WHIP too. Those of you who drafted for this rebound, good for you. Let’s hope he keeps it going.

St. Louis Cardinals: Alex Reyes is second in MLB with 16 saves. He only pitched once this week but converted a save. I am a little concerned with the recent injuries in the St. Louis rotation and how this may impact Reyes moving forward, as in, will he continue to get many opportunities with a makeshift rotation? Stay tuned but use him until we know more. The 40 Ks in 29 innings help, too.

San Diego Padres: What a world we live in!  Mark Melancon has 19 saves in the first week of June and shows no signs of slowing down or surrendering the job. What a remarkable year for a guy who wasn’t promised the job in Spring Training. Another option here, Drew Pomeranz, suffered a stet back in his recovery from a lat injury, and is not expected back until the end of June at the earliest. Continue to ride with Melancon. Look at the consistency we crave from Melancon below, although the Ks are not a source of help for us:

Los Angeles Dodgers: So Kenley Jansen is always thought to be slipping, but he has 12 saves and a 1.88 ERA. A deeper diver reveals cracks though:  a19.1 BB% is frightening, but he’s only allowed seven hits all season. So he limits the damage but how long can he walk that tightrope in a bullpen stacked with options? Stay tuned but he is the guy. For now. He just keeps getting he job done.

Distinguished

Kansas City Royals: This one is messy. With Josh Staumont on the IL (although perhaps soon to come off it), Greg Holland got the opportunity and converted earlier in the week. The Scott Barlow got a gleaming six-out save on Thursday night. Please recall that Mike Matheny is the manager here, and context matters, which means this will likely be a committee until Staumont is back. Thus, this will be a headache for you.

Oakland Athletics: The Lou Trivino/Jake Diekman debate has been discussed multiple times. Two weeks ago, Diekman got three saves in a week; last week, Trivino got both opportunities and converted both. With the return of Jesus Luzardo to the bullpen, could he become their closer? Also, A.J. Puk is supposedly near a return as well. This appears to be a committee that could become more interesting as fresh arms return; reflect on the fact that this bullpen has been used more than others.

New York Mets: It’s Edwin Diaz and will be, but there has been some shuffling of the chairs behind him. Trevor May has looked fatigued, leading to opportunities for Miguel Castro and Jeurys Familia. Also, be reminded that Seth Lugo is back, and that he could wrestle a significant role in this bullpen before too long if he proves healthy.

Washington Nationals: Brad Hand is steady and never spectacular, but has 10 saves on the year and seems to be right again after a tough end of May. Tanner Rainey was activated off the IL but was ineffective, continuing a troubling trend, so look for Daniel Hudson to be the next in line and at the very least get holds.

Proficient

Miami Marlins: Yimi Garcia was great to start the year, but the shine has dimmed on him. While he does have nine saves, he also has four losses. If you haven’t moved on yet, it may be time depending on your options. Anthony Bass lurks as an option, as does Dylan Floro, who got a save last week. Watch this one.

Baltimore Orioles: Did you pick Paul Fry as the closer? He may be now although this could get murky quickly with committee work. Hunter Harvey returned this week from the IL, and do not be surprised is he gets a smattering of chances as we move along here. Tanner Scott has the most arm talent in the pen. And then, we get Cole Sulser with a save this week. Ready to pull out what is left of your hair?  Egads! I would go with Fry right now based on what we are seeing but keep in mind this one is likely to stay in flux. Hey, remember Cesar Valdez? The dead fish changeup is being tuned up to a  5.16 ERA. While you may have interest in Fry, keep in mind the Orioles just lost 14 straight. Fry is getting it done. See below:

Toronto Blue Jays: It’s Jordan Romano. In May he was 2-0 and three saves, and he is the best option even as Rafael Dolis and Tyler Chatwood seemingly lurk behind him.

Atlanta Braves: Will Smith has 10 saves but a 4.09 ERA. But here’s the thing: his xERA is 2.73, and he’s had some touch luck that appears to be normalizing for him now. Could be worth an add if some impatient owner has dropped him or wants to move him cheaply. The 34.4 K% also speaks to me.

Philadelphia Phillies: The oft-maligned Hector Neris has nine saves for the Phillies. Connor Brogdon, often mentioned as a closer-in-waiting, earned his first save Saturday night. Neris was on the paternity list, so do not read too much into it right now. It should continue to be his job.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Richard Rodriguez is likely to be traded before the July deadline, and he’s been good: three wins, seven saves, a 1.85 ERA and .70 WHIP.  Chris Stratton picked up a save this week on a three-inning job, so do not read too much into that at this point. The Pirates do have options behind Rodriguez if they do move him: Howard, Bednar, Crick.

Marginal

Detroit Tigers: Just when it appeared that Michael Fulmer had the job, he went down with arm fatigue. What that means for you is the committee is back for now between Gregory Soto, Bryan Garcia (who seems best suited for a middle relief role) and Jose Cisnero, who closed out the White Sox on Saturday afternoon. I want no part of this unless it is Fulmer, in all honesty. UPDATE: Fulmer went to the IL this morning with a shoulder strain.

Minnesota Twins: It’s a committee between Taylor Rogers and Hansel Robles. Rogers has four saves, Robles has five. Alex Colome could re-emerge down the road, but it’s been a rocky one for him. It would not surprise me if Rogers secured the job at some point, but Robles has saved them (see what I did there) in the last month.

Seattle Mariners: If it’s not Kendall Graveman, I do not have interest. Looks like he is off Covid-19 protocols now, but may need a couple of days to get up to speed again.

Los Angeles Angels: Raisel Iglesias has been pitching with vigor again, he’s got the ERA under 4.00 again, and has converted three spotless saves in a row. Your time to buy low could be closing, so get in on this if you can. Because here’s the thing: he has no real competition in Los Angeles for the job.

San Francisco Giants: We have discussed this here before, and right now, it is Tyler Rogers and his frisbee getting outs in San Fran. Jake McGee has faded into relative obscurity again after a hot start, although he did earn a save last week. Rogers is up to eight now, and depending on your league context, could be worth an add for cheap saves. Look at this interesting Statcast data here: 

Cincinnati Reds: Here comes Lucas Sims with two saves this week for the Reds. Tejay Antone has been a revelation but does not appear to be the closer, and Amir Garrett appears to be in the rearview mirror right now. If you have been stashing Sims, use him now if you have a space for him. He has gotten the save opportunity in four of his last five appearances.

Unacceptable

Arizona Diamondbacks: I said no last week, and this week, I say it again. If you’re trying to win, just no. Please.

Colorado Rockies: Daniel Bard has been better, but the moribund Rockies are not going to give him many opportunities. I am still not comfortable with this one and won’t use him at this time.